Over the last year I have been taking note of some of the stories in the various science/tech news feeds with of hope of eventually finding the time to expound on them in a format such as this. There is really no perfect time to commence such an activity and over the winter break I made a promise to myself that I’d try to blog at least twice a month. This is the first of that series so let me take you on a short tour of some of the stuff over the last year that I found fascinating.
Our first stop is the mathematics of zero and a radio episode by Alex Bellos who travels to India in search of absolutely nothing, well the origins of zero in actual fact. I continue to find it fascinating that the ancient religions of Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism contributed so much to mathematics and yet much of this history remains unattributed and not taught in mathematics classes in the western world.
If I’ve still held your interest then you may also consider looking at the talk given by Robin Wilson of Gresham College entitled ‘Early Mathematics’ which reviews the time period from 2700BCE to 1100CE. This covers results from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, China, India, the Mayans, Islam and early results in Europe leading into the Renaissance period.
As I mentioned above, this is to be the first in a series of blogs that provide a window into what I find fascinating and where I see interesting cross-overs between mathematics and other disciplines. There are many blog entries under construction with topics as varied as “the mathematics of kid toys and carnival rides”, “predicting elections”, and “an insider view on what it is like as a mathematician to work with industry”.
I look forward to their imminent posting with anticipation.
Update: In the same theme of mathematics that has been lost and rediscovered, A Prayer for Archimedes describes a long-lost text by the ancient Greek mathematician showing that he had begun to discover the principles of calculus long before it was developed by Leibniz and Newton many centuries later.